“Western Civilization”

and the

Western Civilization Course


Š      What is “Western Civilization”? Does it really exist? How has it been “imagined”?

Š      Who invented the Western Civilization course? Why?

Š      Why bother studying “Western Civilization” today?


I. Imagining “Western Civilization”: What is it?


Š     A Hebrew/Jewish Invention?  The Tradition of Ethical Monotheism

Š     A Greek Invention?  Individualism, Freedom, and Reason

Š     A Product of the Western Historical Imagination?


II. The “Western Civ” Course: Made in America


Š     Common Historical Identity

Š     World War I and Columbia’s “Western Civ” Course (1917)

Š     Post-World War II and the Establishment of Western Civ

Š     Critics of The “Western Civ” Course


III.  Why study the History of Western Civilization today?


Š     The Persistence of the West, Western Identity, and Westernization

Š     Historical and Cultural Literacy

Š     “Historical Thinking”: A Useful Skill